Whether you want to win the race, or win your lane – bring your team to the start line! Festival teams look to co-workers, friends, spouses, church members, civic leaders, customers, neighbors, and others to fill your winning team of 20 paddlers and a drummer. There’s a reason it’s the fastest growing water sport. Get on the Boat. Make Waves!
The core values associated with dragon boat racing highlights the inherent inclusiveness of the sport. Unlike many other sports like baseball, football, basketball, and other team sports, often a single or only a few athletes play a key role to ensure a team’s success. In dragon boat racing, not one paddler alone guarantees a victory. It literally takes all 20 paddlers, the drummer and steersperson to work in unison and cross the finish line first. In dragon boat racing, it doesn’t matter who is in each seat of the boat.
Every paddler plays a specific role. They sit next to each other, and against the gunnel to balance the boat as they paddle. The strokers occupy the front three seats of the boat, while the fourth seat is a transition place where, ideally, the paddlers have rhythm and power. Then, seats four, five, and six consist of the “engine room,” where the largest and strongest team members sit. The last four rows of a dragon boat are filled with strong paddlers who are also typically shorter and able to paddle faster. Paddlers at this location in the dragon boat are considered “rockets,” because the water is moving faster to them, from the first 14 seats since they’re scooping water back. The paddlers are taught to watch up the middle of the boat and two seats across – when that paddler has his or her paddle up in the air, ready to engage the water, it’s the cue for the person watching to get his or her paddle up, as well. While the drummer plays keeps the rhythm for most of the boat, it can be difficult to hear on race day. It’s also a very visual sport, and if everyone is watching the right person, magic absolutely can happen in a dragon boat. Teams have to follow the strategy, and then execute: the team members in the front must paddler in perfect timing as an example for the back half of the boat. When the power from the middle is mixed with the speed and capabilities of the athletes in the back, a dragon boat can glide quickly through the water like a bullet.
Teams feel a connection to the racing. They feel connected to the experience.